The developments around the Occupy movement are occurring so quickly now that it’s hard to keep track. I’d like to be able to share things as they happen, but, given the realities of life, and the fact that this blog is just a one man operation, I don’t think that’s going to happen. With that said, though, I do promise to pass along the best of what comes my way, and start new threads as often as possible, so that those of you who read the site and leave comments can share information, especially as it relates to current events in Southeast Michigan. And, with that by way of introduction, I’d like to start tonight’s post with this video of Pulitzer winning journalist Chris Hedges being dismissed as a “left wing nutbar” by the Canadian broadcaster Kevin O’Leary, host of the CBC’s “Inside the Business World” program.
And, here, thanks to the folks at the blog Creekside, is a bit of the transcript:
CBC CO-HOST: Well Kevin made this point that nobody knows what they want. What do you say to that? We know that this is a very diverse group, there are many different agendas at play… what is the sense you have of what this movement would like to see happen?
HEDGES: They know precisely what they want ; they want to reverse the corporate coup that’s taken place in the US and rendered the citizenry impotent and they won’t stop until that happens and frankly if we don’t break the back of corporations, we’re all finished anyway since we’re rapidly trashing the ecosystem on which the human species depends for survival. This is literally a fight for life – it’s that grave, it’s that serious. Corporations, unfettered capitalism, as Karl Marx understood, is a revolutionary force – it commodifies everything – human beings, the natural world which it exploits for profit until exhaustion and collapse. The bottom line is we don’t have much time left – we are on the cusp of perhaps another major banking crisis in Europe, defaults in Greece, followed by Spain, Portugal. There’s been no restrictions, no regulations on Wall Street – they’ve looted the US Treasury, they’ve played all the games that they were playing before and we’re about to pay for it all over again.
O’LEARY: Listen don’t take this the wrong way but you sound like a left wing nutbar. If you want to shut down every corporation, every bank, where are you going to get a job? Where are you gonna work? Where’s the economy gonna go?
HEDGES: Corporations don’t produce anything and…
O’LEARY: Oh really!?
HEDGES: No. Financial corporations on Wall Street…
O’LEARY: Are you driving a car to the protest?
HEDGES: They are speculators. I’m talking about the financial institutions like Goldman Sachs. They don’t manufacture, they don’t make anything – they gamble, they use money, and they believe falsely that money is real as we dismantle our manufacturing base and send jobs over the border to Mexico and finally into the embrace of China.
CBC CO-HOST: Well I see that you and Kevin could get into an actually huge argument here.
HEDGES: Well you know I don’t usually go on shows where people descend to character assassination. If you want to discuss issues, that’s fine but this sounds like Fox News and I don’t go on Fox News. Either you discuss the issues and… look, you have had very eloquent writers – people like John Ralston Saul in Canada who have laid this out with incredible lucidity – and to somehow attack this critique by calling someone a nutcase engages in the kind of trash talk that’s polluted the corporate airwaves…
And, speaking of unprofessional conservative “journalists,” I also just read a piece in the Washington Post on an assistant editor at the American Spectator magazine by the name of Patrick Howley, and his successful infiltration of a group protesting the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum yesterday. It would appear that he not only worked his way into the group, but was responsible for escalating their confrontation with security guards to the point that the museum was shut down.
Howley later wrote on the Spectator’s website, “What began on Wall Street is now spreading, and the question still remains: is it dangerous? Socialist indoctrination methods are surprisingly effective.” As he was the only one, by his own admission, to rush past guards, into the museum, it would seem to me that his conservative methods were actually the most effective, but, unfortunately, most people hearing about this particular protest won’t know about the role he played, as his column has since been removed from the American Spectator website, and no other media outlets covering the protest noted his presence.
I know folks on the left tend to sound paranoid when they talk of the possibility that their ranks, at otherwise peaceful protests like this, could be infiltrated by agent provocateurs, but it does happen, and this should be a reminder of that fact.
OK, and as long as I’m sharing videos, here’s another good one. This is of former U.S. House member Alan Grayson on the set of Bill Maher’s show, explaining, like Hedges did above, why our fellow Americans are taking to the streets.
Here’s a clip:
GRAYSON: Now let me tell you about what they’re talking about. They’re complaining that Wall Street wrecked the economy three years ago and nobody’s held responsible for that. Not a single person’s been indicted or convicted for destroying twenty percent of our national net worth accumulated over two centuries. They’re upset about the fact that Wall Street has iron control over the economic policies of this country, and that one party is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street, and the other party caters to them as well.
The people in the corporate media can try as they might to explain this movement away as the antics of a few naive bongo players, or worse, some kind of anti-American cabal, but the facts are getting out in spite of them. This movement isn’t about class warfare – it’s about accountability. No one, Chris Hedges included, is saying that we need to completely dismantle the free enterprise system. What they are saying, though, is that we all have to play by the same rules, and that those who try to subvert the system for their own personal gains should be prosecuted. This is about ending loopholes and sweetheart deals for corporations who employ armies of lobbyists and accountants in order to ensure that they can avoid paying the same taxes that the rest of us are compelled to. This, as Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said a few days ago to those occupying Wall Street, is about ending anti-competitive practices under which losses are socialized and gains are privatized.
STIGLITZ: We bailed out the banks with an understanding that there would be a restoration of lending. All there was was a restoration of bonuses. Unless we deal with the anti-competitive practices with the reckless vending and speculative behavior, with the anti-competitive practices, unless we restore demand to the function it should serve, we won’t have a robust recovery.
What could be more capitalistic than that, right?
But the folks on the right aren’t going to give up easily. They’re going to fight. They’re going to keep sending out their hired guns, like Long Island Republican Congressman Peter King, to paint these friends and neighbors of ours who are in the street as “anti-American.”
KING: The fact is these people are anarchists. They have no idea what they’re doing out there… They have no sense of purpose other than a basically anti-American tone and anti-capitalist. It’s a ragtag mob basically.
And, that, I’m afraid, is where I’m going to have to leave you for the night, as the cough syrup is beginning to make its way into my bloodstream. I’m sure there will be more to follow in the days to come, though.
Also, if anyone is planning to head to Detroit tomorrow, to participate in the first Occupy Detroit planning session (Monday, October 10, from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM, at 1519 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd) I’d love to hear about it.
[The "Fight the Vampire Squid" image above comes from Molly Crabapple. I found it in a delightful post on the Mother Jones website about the historical use of octopi to convey capitalistic overreach. Her use of "vampire quid" can be traced back to a quote from Matt Taibbi, who once described Goldman Sachs as "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."]